Title: We Without Us Were Shadows
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Gaslamp
Dates read: 17th October 2019
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: What would happen?
Childhood and imagination is a wonderful thing. But what happens when the things that you imagine become real?
This story has a completely surreal quality to it. Which can be said for a lot of the Gaslamp stories I’ve read… but this one just takes on a whole new level. I think it’s the combination of different worlds and the childlike dream state that is perpetuated throughout. It just makes this feel incredibly dreamlike – and makes it a little hard to follow through.
One of the most childlike moments of this story is the constant return of the soldiers. I did get lost with the names of the different characters, but there were constantly mentions of toy soldiers who became real men in the different worlds that the children visited. It kept making me think of fairy tales and legends that I’ve read as a child.
I didn’t read We Without Us Were Shadows at a great time. It was late at night and I was exhausted after a day of fieldwork. But it’s certainly a tale that I think I would like to reread. Maybe when I’m capable of paying a little more attention to the words on the page… instead of almost falling asleep halfway through.